Sunday, November 13, 2022

A Lesson in Poetry, Thanks to Marianne Moore

This is the story of my first public poetry reading.

I love hearing poems read aloud by their authors in real life. That and listening to musicians perform are two things that always rekindle my sense of wonder and reaffirm my faith in humanity.

Having recently attended both the Paterson and Dodge poetry festivals in New Jersey, I was energized and excited by the poets I heard. The experience inspired me to write a trilogy of poems that share the theme of looking back at my life and family.

Just for kicks, I decided to share these poems in public, out loud, during the open mic portion of a poetry reading at the Fort Lee Public Library this past weekend. There were a few other men approximately my age who also read, including one who read a poem about an imaginary conversation with the poet Marianne Moore.

So I was emboldened to walk to the mic in front of the room and read the set of poems below. The crowd of perhaps two dozen was attentive, and applauded, and I felt pretty good about the experience.

At the end, as I gathered my coat and notebook, an older gentleman hurried toward me. There was joy in his eyes, and it was as if he couldn't wait to tell me how much he enjoyed my poems. I thought, "I have a fan!"

He shook my hand vigorously and smiled warmly. He said, "I bet you didn't know that Marianne Moore loved baseball and was a big fan of the Dodgers!"

I smiled just as warmly, admitted I didn't know that, and thanked him for the information.

Then, turning and turning, I slouched towards home.

Elegy in a Living Room

Roman Holiday

Unopened Prayers

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